HERE’S one for you gals among my, what, six readers: Seen on, and grabbed from, the free book cart at my local municipal book-lending distribution center, or library — and just in time for football season, which I understand will be starting up again soon!
A Woman’s Guide to Football!
Featuring the ol’ pigskin right on the cover, but, whaddayacall, femmanized, dere, with a pretty pink bow and a spray of flowers atop! Adorable!
It’s a “Dell Purse Book,” so it fits handily right into those purses you ladies are always carrying around.
Published by the good folks at Dell Publishing in 1969, what amounts to a foreword, under the heading “Forever On Sunday,” begins thusly:
Had the housewife of 1869 been able to see ahead, chances are she’d have stormed to New Brunswick, New Jersey and plunged her Victorian hatpin into the backsides of 22 students (from Rutgers and Princeton) who were assembled to play the first football game on record. But Granny was no soothsayer and as it turned out, her lack of foresight didn’t matter for the better part of a century. Until the 1950s, Sunday was a restful day — a time for visiting, taking a stroll, enjoying a leisurely dinner. But I guess you know, lady, things have changed . This is the age of television and the era of football, and between the two, you haven’t got a chance.
It goes on to gently warn readers that “it’s time for the women of America learned this new adage: The family that prays for the home team together stays together.”
Good advice, you’ll agree. And it just gets better from there, brother! …er, sister!
“A Woman’s Guide to Football” was written by Hy Goldberg, and as best as I can divine from thirty seconds of searching on the internet, it’s the only book the man wrote. A shame, too — the man had such a talent for writing for a female audience. Clearly, if he were around today, he’d be a regular contributor on “Bustle.”
Good heavens, even if you become passionate about the sport, don’t start absorbing too much knowledge — the ongoing existence of your marriage may depend on it! Besides, no one likes a smart woman!
“A Woman’s Guide to Football” is written in a question-and-answer format, with one of those, ha!, typically hapless, sports-baffled ladies posing questions and Hy patiently answering them.
Well, mostly patiently: Occasionally, even our author gets a bit frustrated (and who can blame him?), such as seen in this exchange:
…and so on.
Here’s how supermarket-checkout-counter-impulse-buying women of the late 1960s and early 1970s learned football, with examples chosen specifically not for Mr. Goldberg’s knowledge of the game, but rather for his approach towards addressing the feminine sex:
If you manage your time well enough, honey, you can probably baste the roast and take your curlers out!
While Hy does attempt something resembling politeness, occasionally referring to the reader as “ma’am,” more often he has nicknamed the reader, all readers, all women everywhere, as “Alice.”
But even “Alice” has her limits being talked down to:
Though when one remembers that it’s Hy writing both sides of the conversation, even “Alice’s” attempts at sticking up for herself become irrelevant.
Ah, yes: “the fancy place-kicker.”
“Old girl.” Apparently “Alice” is now a beloved horse.
Steady, Hy. Remember, this is all new to Alice.
Alice may grasp it, but she’s already been warned about being a know-it-all, so if she’s smart (and she shouldn’t be!), she’ll still act confused.
The “reader” finally gets to assert herself at the end, and explain that she’s not “Alice.” But not before ol’ Hy hits a game-winning home run of a hat trick (to use some of my own football knowledge) with this triple play of condescending misogyny:
One can only imagine the guys around Dell’s purse book division in the late 60s patting Hy Goldberg and themselves on the back for this one. “A masterpiece, Hy. And women can’t complain — because we let them ‘have the last word!'”
Anyway, after having picked this thing up and flipped through it with you, I realize there’s no way on earth this book would ever be published today.
And for good reason:
Any publisher would go broke selling an informative little volume like this for only two bits!
…And that staccato click-click-click-click, fellas, is the last of my female readers stamping their pretty little high-heeled shod-feet away from my blog.
Seriously, though — I’ve come across this particular Dell Purse book a few times over the years, and not surprisingly, they’re always in excellent condition. Were they purchased by women themselves who were making an attempt to learn the game and immediately turned off by the author’s condescending tone, or bought by husbands to give to their wives (with the same result)?
I guess we’ll never know, Alice.
HEY, it’s been ages since we had a meeting of the Ted Parsnips Book Club! First there were the holidays, and then Johanna and Seth broke up, and, well, we had the house fumigated the first week of January for carpet bugs, and then the Turkelsons went on vacation, and then Tina and I broke up, and then Johanna and I got together, and then we were going to have a meeting the first Thursday of February, but we all agreed it would be “weird,” and then I realized what a controlling witch Johanna is and understood why Seth and her broke up, so then Seth and I got together for a couple of weeks, but then he needed “space,” and then Tina realized her name was on the mortgage and moved back in here (whatever), and then Seth and Johanna got back together for the sake of Yung Soo who was having trouble in school, and then last week the State Department finally flew back the Turkelsons’ remains from Costa Rica and we all got together at the memorial and one of us said, “Hey, why don’t we start up that book club thing again?” so here we are.
This week’s selection is “Found II“, compiled by Davy Rothbart. And it cost only 50¢ at the used bookstore just inside the lobby of the library across the street from Rite Aid. There was only one copy and this was it, so looks like the rest of you had to get your copies in other used book stores in other libraries. Hope that worked out for you, because if you don’t have a copy of “Found II,” you can’t participate in this week’s discussion, and you’ll take a zero for this assignment.
You know “Found” – it’s that wonderful magazine dedicated to discarded notes, letters, flyers, photos, lists, and drawings found and sent in by readers.
This book, a compilation of stuff from the magazine has a bunch of those finds, and it’s a delight to leaf through. An absolute delight!
However, I will not, nay, I cannot recommend it because I’ve sent in a few things to “Found” over the years and I’ve never heard back from them, and frankly, this irritates me.
You’re going to use my submissions, you’re not going to use them, whatever – just drop me an email one way or the other. I mean, how many submissions could they possibly be getting each day? Three? Four? Oh, sure, I get the self-serving “Buy Our Latest Issue” emails they send out every few months, but never “Hey, Ted, we got that cocktail napkin with the schmutz on it that you sent in – thanks! Look for it in Issue #8!”
Anyway, I find Found-quality stuff all the time. All-the-freaking-time. Hell, you know, me, I’m always picking up trash in the street – how do you think I met Tina? But the fact is, Davy Rothbart and his merry band of Foundsters aren’t getting any more of my treasures – no how, no way. And believe me, brother, ho-ho, believe you me, they’d kill for this stuff! This is high quality crap that I’ve found, you know, in the, eh, gutter.
And just so they might see what they’re missing, just so they know how mistreating me has its consequences, sure, I’ve compiled just one week’s worth of finds below!
Look at all that great stuff! Look at all that great stuff I found! “What is it all?” I’m glad you asked! I’ve arranged to have our art department draw up a key to the above.
Yeah, that’s entirely necessary and not confusing at all, in this vertical format.
1. Thin, galvanized steel sign that reads “NO PEDDLERS OR AGENTS” that looks to be from around the 1950s. Found! On the ground by my car near Wienerschnitzel in Simi Valley! Fascinating!
2. Business card belonging to Eugene Sinai, salesman for Knudsen Dairy Products! Features a phone number with an exchange (RIchmond 7-6471). Found! In a little book from the 1940s about milk production! That I bought in a thrift store! In Simi Valley!
3. Drink ticket! Good for 1 drink! I presume this is good anywhere! (Doesn’t say otherwise!) Found! In a parking lot outside Jack in the Box!
4. Condom with a googly eye somehow stuck to the end! Smells vaguely of cheap nacho cheese sauce! Found! In the bushes outside the post office!
5. Xeroxed page about “Cults, Ritualistic Abuse and Satanism,” and I quote, “The time has come to take this compulsive and total immersion in music seriously. It is time for adults to learn what the funny clothing, the blaring music, and the weird hairdos mean.” Found! On the sidewalk when I was running!
6. Coupon for 10¢ off Post Raisin Bran from 1979! Found! In a pile of papers on my desk!
7. Envelope postmarked 1959 from defunct Southern California supermarket upon the back of which someone has written a recipe that seems to be for some sort of pie! Found! In a cookbook in thrift store in Reseda that I didn’t buy, but I pocketed the envelope! Oh, spare me your lectures on morality! It’s a worthless goddamn envelope!
8. Sheet of “Fix Notes” from episode 316 of “Phineas & Ferb” presumably for the sound editor. (“2:56 – be more mysterious on Isabella talking about Ferb playing soccer with a pumpkin. Or could be silent.”) Found! Again, on sidewalk when I was running, about a quarter mile before the Satanism page!
9. Harmonica! Found! Along traintracks! Plays great! (–once I managed to tweeze out all the Red Man chewing tobacco that was impacted in the blow holes – thank God it was still moist and pliable!) Just call me Toots Thielemans!
10. Oh, this one I love: Scrap of paper with “Pink Lock 24-38-8” scrawled on it! Found! On the floor of the men’s locker room in my gym! It’s like when Eddie Pufahl couldn’t remember the combination to his lock in 7th grade and wrote it on the outside of his locker! Ha! What a loser! Remember that? Or did you not go to my school?
11. Canceled check for $30.95 payable to Readers Institute of America, from one John Cannon of Albany, Georgia dated August 7, 1964! Found! Inside an old issue of “Ford Times!”
12. Page of exceptionally crazy end-of-the-world religious ranting and Bible verse-quoting (including a delightful passage where the writer calls the current head of the Catholic church “Nazi Pope Ratzinger.”) Found! In the parking lot at IHOP in Carson, California!
13. Neat little perfectly oval rock! Found! At El Matador Beach in Malibu!
All of this could have been yours, Davy, to include in the next issue of your magazine. But instead, because of your insouciance to my previous submissions (and each one was phenomenal!), it’s all going to our first ever contest winner in our first ever contest. (Except for the drink ticket and the harmonica. And the rock, which I think is kind of neat.)
And the winner is… [and here I churn my hand around in a fishbowl full of slips of papers featuring the names of every single person who’s ever written in here to TedParsnips.com]…the winner is…”Chris C.” in Sacramento, California!
Congratulations, Chris C., whoever you are! It’s all yours, pal – as soon as I’ve found, in my mailbox, a check covering the cost of me mailing it all to you!
LIKE big game hunting? Sure, there, Frank Buck, we all do.
Here’s a fun hunting game that you can play when you and your pals are in a thrift store – any thrift store – in the greater Los Angeles area, and the best part is, you won’t actually be killing anything, so those morons at PeTA will have no reason to throw red paint on you. Unless you’re wearing fur or eating KFC.
What you do, see, is you head over to the book section and have a race to see who can find this book first:
It’s a quick game – it will only take a moment or so before you (or your pal) will find it.
Why? I don’t know. What I do know is that I have come across this book in literally every single thrift store in LA County (and often, beyond) for the last six years. And brother, I been to plenty! Hoo boy, I been to palennnty!
Back at the beginning, you’d see this invasive species in large flocks – twenty, thirty books together, often occupying an entire shelf, leaving precious little room for the graceful and majestic Tuesdays with Morries, the peaceful Bridges of Madison Countys, those gentle giants of the lower shelves, The DaVinci Codes, and, perhaps most tragically, the once abundant but now endangered I’m OK – You’re OKs and The Cracker Factorys. I can go on.
Then, as the months and years went by, the numbers of this once prolific creature had dwindled to smaller packs – five or six copies per store. Today it’s definitely still out there, but the herd has been thinned to just a single copy or two in each thrift shop. Nature has a way of adapting, and perhaps realizing its days in thrifts were numbered, Wild Animuses (or Animii) have recently been spotted migrating into used book stores and remainder outlets where they’ll peacefully live out the rest of their lives, unmolested and unsold.
You think I’m lying about this whole Wild Phenomenus of course – you’ve never trusted me, which is one of our problems we’re still working on when you even bother coming to therapy – but I know plenty of folks who will back me up on this: shifty secondhand book dealers, filthy thrift store regulars, and people who just need a place to sit down for a few hours so they grabbed a random stack of books to leaf through at Salvation Army while occupying a broken Barcalounger in the furniture department.
Now, what’s most fascinating is that at least two distinct subspecies of this book have been sighted – possibly more. There’s the version above – which actually has been the (slightly) rarer one in my experience, and then another with a dark, primitive-looking aboriginal-type image, which I used to see everywhere.
A little online research reveals that the book is the product of a vanity press founded by its very author, Rich Shapero. He wrote it, and he published it. Kind of like I did in the late 1980s with my Ann Jillian zine, though apparently Shapero had a bigger budget and didn’t have to make copies at Kinko’s at three a.m. and sneak out without paying.
Oh, great. This is just freaking wonderful – further online research uncovers the aggravating fact that I’m far from the first person to cover the ubiquity of this book.
So the hell with this, I’m done wasting my time for you people. Oh, sure – clearly I should have somehow magically foreseen that blogging was going to be the next big “thing” and started this website and wrote about “Wild Animus” way back in 2007 before anyone ever heard of “blogs” much less the Information Superhighway.
…Okay, so this isn’t a total waste, let’s start over.
Like big game hunting? Sure, there, Bror von Blixen-Finecke, we all do.
Here’s a fun hunting game that you can play when you and your pals are in a thrift store – any thrift store anywhere.
Head over to the LPs and look for Herb Alpert albums.
…to read the little blurb below the subtitle – as well as the name of the author, and the guy who wrote the introduction, and maybe flip through and check for pictures – before I snag a book off the “Free / Pay What You Like” cart inside the foyer at my local library.
Good thing I didn’t drop any money in that big plastic pretzel jar with the slot cut in the lid duct-taped to the cart, or I would have been really pissed off.
Still, I think Reverend Schuller knew exactly what he was doing when he came up with that title. Exactly what he was doing!
Well, it’s back to the T.J. Maxx circular for me.
TODAY’S book club selection is “The Edge of Tomorrow” by Howard Fast. This is available in paperback from Bantam Books for 45¢ at, I think it was that thrift store on Sherman Way in Reseda across from CVS. Ignore the “Book Castle” price tag on it, that’s old. I’m pretty sure it’s only 45¢. Well, it was, anyway. I bought the only copy they had.
The thing is, folks, if you’re going to be part of this book club, it’s going to eventually become evident if it hasn’t already that you’re going to have to get to the thrift store before me.
Anyway, a little background on Howard Fast: Howard Fast was— You know what? You know how to use Wikipedia. I’m not cluttering up this post up with a biography; besides, I think the hosting company I use charges me by the word. That’s how they do it, right?
Okay, let’s get this show on the road: “The Edge of Tomorrow.” Okay. Okay.
Awright, here we go.
It’s got this enormous freaking ant on the cover!
If that doesn’t entice you to pick up this book and spend 45¢ on it, I don’t know what the hell is wrong with you, but get off my website.
I’m kidding, I’m kidding! Come back here. You’re the only one who’s been here all week.
Okay, all month.
Anyway, look at that ant! Look at that big ol’ hairy ant! And I’m not talking about the Italian woman your uncle married, hey-o!
I’m kidding! Get back here! Get back here, sit down, have some coffee. Let’s talk ants.
Now look carefully and you’ll see three people cowering in terror beneath the giant ant. Well, wouldn’t you cower? The thing’s as big as a house!
So I did some figuring and I’ve decided that an average man is about, what, 5’9”…? (You and me, though, we’re taller. I did say “average.”) Regardless, I’m estimating those three poor bastards at about five-nine in height. Got it? Then I took a piece of paper and marked off the height of the tallest guy, and then counted how many of him it would take to reach the top of the ant. Look, this was all very scientific and mathematical and I can’t get into it here. It’s much too complex to explain. Long story short, I estimate that monster ant on the cover to be about thirty-one feet, nine inches tall. Got it? 31’9”.
Inside the book there are seven short stories. The second one is titled “The Large Ant.”
Again, can we have another shot of the cover, please?
Okay, fine, scroll up if you need to. The thing isn’t large; it’s enormous! It’s behemothic! It’s gargantuan, cyclopean, and any of another two dozen synonyms for ‘gigantic’ which I won’t list here because I can’t afford another huge word bill at the end of the month from JoyHost LLC.
So you can imagine, having plunked down 45¢ for this this, my stomach’s already feeling a little unsettled reading the title “The Large Ant.” And then I get to page 37!
Am I allowed to transcribe stuff here? Is that legal…? You’re sure…? Okay.
And then I get to page 37!
“…It’s the first time I saw an ant fourteen, fifteen inches long. I hope it’s the last.”
Well, for God’s sake, I don’t! I hope they just keep getting bigger! Because “fourteen, fifteen inches long” does not equal “thirty-one feet, nine inches tall.” And this isn’t ruining anything; you wouldn’t be here in the book club if you hadn’t read it, too – so as you know, that’s it! One lousy “large” ant that isn’t even a foot and a half long!
What are these paperback publishers trying to do to us with artwork on the cover that bears no resemblance to the story inside? Isn’t there some law against this? Well, this is exactly what internet petitions are for, so I need you to get started on that, but for the love of Christ, let’s not do double work and have multiple petitions going around there because it’s just going to be more work for me and I’ll have to spend hours checking for duplicate names and then even more time and effort to consolidate them all into one cohesive document before my attorney will even look at it.
In the meantime, I need any of you who knows Bennett Cerf to get in touch with him. He lives in Mt. Kisco, New York, I think. Do we have anyone here from Mt. Kisco?
OKAY, let’s quietly move our chairs into a semi-circle formation, on account of it’s time for Ted Parsnips’ Book Club. I said quietly!
Today we’ll be discussing “The Vampire of Mons” by Desmond Stuart and I hope you all read it. It was on your reading list, and as you know it was available at the Elephant’s Trunk Thrift Store in Venice, Florida, for 25¢, at least until I bought it about a year and a half ago. After that, you were on your own. I don’t know what to tell you. Look for it on Amazon or something. Or take a zero for this assignment.
Anyway, I finally got around to reading it. And the thing is, I’m trying not to be a total jackass here. I don’t want to cruelly mock other creative endeavors, or the creative types that endeavor to…create…them just because I can, from the relative safety of my ivory keyboard. Because we all have feelings. There’s no reason for me to rip apart someone else’s work just because I can, right…?
Having said that, Desmond Stewart died thirty years ago, he’s not reading this, and this “novel” of his was a steaming pile of crap.
Look, for my 25¢ I want a good story, not just a good cover. And the cover was good. The cover is what sold me. I spent my two bits based on this cover. You’ve got the menacing guy front and center – presumably the vampire – and then two boys behind him, and then some kid standing in a field or something by himself below.
And you know I was drawn in by the cover, because the damn book is falling apart and I still invested a quarter on it.
Turns out this book was nothing but a gay “A Separate Piece.” Oh – oh, excuse me – a gayer “Separate Peace.” A gayer “Separate Peace” but instead of just that vague Gene-and-Finny thing going on, there’s four characters involved, and one of them is the teacher. And despite the title…? There was no vampire! They just thought there was a vampire!
What a gyp!
And just like John Knowles’ creepy paean to subtle teenage homoeroticism and obsession, this thing takes place in a boarding school during the Second World War.
But in England. Though you’d never know that from the cover because none of the people in the cover artwork look British. Awful, awful, book – terrible, meandering, pointless, absurd story and misleading cover art all of which may add up to a lawsuit against The Elephant Trunk; I’m still discussing my options with my attorney.
What’s fascinating, though, is the back cover features a quote raving about the book:
“Many thanks for THE VAMPIRE OF MONS which I swallowed in one sitting. I thought it was the most interesting Gothic novel I have read for some time, and I particularly admired the accurate horrors of the kind of wartime boarding-school and all the underlying symbolism of the situation.”
And that quote, ladies and gentlemen, that quote is attributed to John Fowles. I’m serious! It’s like John Knowles, but with an F instead of an Kn. What does this all mean?
Who cares! It’s going into the trash now. Any of you who liked it, you’re wrong and you will be graded accordingly.